KOTTAYAM: Indicating a bumpy road ahead for the state government with regard to the land acquisition for the proposed airport for Sabarimala devotees, the Believers Eastern Church on Thursday claimed that the Cheruvally Estate, the proposed site, is not at all a property in dispute and ascertained the Church’s undisputed ownership right on it.
The Church’s response came a day after a meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan decided to go ahead with the acquisition of the Cheruvally Estate, spread over Erumeli South and Manimala villages, for constructing the greenfield airport.In his Facebook post, Fr Sijo Pandapallil, manager and official spokesperson of the church, said there is no case pending in any of the courts with regard to the ownership of the estate. “The Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court have given the verdicts in favour of the Church regarding the ownership of the estate, dismissing all claims by the government,” he said.
Fr Pandapallil, who stated they have no knowledge of the government’s procedures other than what they have learnt from the media, added the church is not against the government or its developmental plans.
In a video post, Fr Pandapallil said both the High Court and Supreme Court abrogated the order of Special Officer M G Rajamanickam to take over the estate and issued orders in favour of the Church. “At the same time, the court had directed the state government to approach civil courts with solid evidence in case of any disputes regarding the title deed of the property. Since the government has not filed any case so far, there is no dispute over the ownership of the property,” he said.
The office of Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan dismissed the Church’s claims, saying the process for filing civil suits is under way.
“The High Court had only permitted the Believers Church to remit the land tax and replant the rubber trees. The order has clearly stated that any decision on the property’s ownership will be subject to the civil court adjudication. Accordingly, a direction has been issued to the district collectors concerned to file civil suits claiming ownership of these properties in respective local courts,” said a source.